01 April

Crowdfunding: Peer to Peer lending continues to take business off banks

Have you ever thought about starting your own business? In the current economic climate, it may be difficult to find funding via traditional ways (such as bank loans). Even angel investors are an highly solicited, sometimes leaving aside a lot of people with brilliant ideas and ultimately missing some great opportunities.

However another solution could offer you a new way to finance your project, whatever it may be. That solution is called crowdfunding. Crowdfunding isn’t a new idea, as the practice has been used since the 18th century. However with the emergence and growth of the Internet, its field of applicants and supporters has broadened greatly.

The goal is for entrepreneurs to ask the public to financially contribute to their projects in exchange for a reward or out of sheer generosity. Why limit yourself to one business angel when you can have hundreds?

Today, Kickstarter is one of the biggest crowdfunding websites on the web. Since its creation in 2009, it has contributed to the successful funding of almost 55,000 projects, with a total of over a billion dollars being contributed. 5.5 million people helped those projects getting funded with nearly 14 million pledges.

One of the biggest success stories thus far is the Pebble smartwatch. The project was so successful it raised 100 times its initial goal by the end of the funding period. Eoin from the connector360 team even has one!

Ireland also has its own crowdfunding websites. Fund It has enabled projects to raise more than two million euro from the ‘power of the crowd’. Fund It works similarly to Kickstarter, allowing entrepreneurs to assign different rewards to different pledge levels. However, Linked Finance - another Irish crowdfunding website – allows the crowd to propose loans at a fixed interest rate. If the loans are accepted by the entrepreneurs, funders will get back the amount loaned, plus interest, usually starting one month after the funding.

All these success stories might make it seem like crowdfunding is the obvious solution to all funding problems, but this is not always the case. A rewarding campaign is hard work, comparable to a marathon that can last from 30 to 60 days. No matter how amazing your idea, artwork or music may be, nobody is sitting around flipping through platforms, waiting to donate to you. It is up to you to create a hook that entices your contributors to make them believe in your vision. It is up to you to use the power of social media wisely and strategically.

Do you want to try crowdfunding for your next project? Here are connector360’s top 5 tips for making your crowdfunding campaign a fantastic success, and not a fallacious flop.

1. Choose your platforms wisely

As stated above, driving your campaign is a grueling process and you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. It may not be necessary to push your message on every online platform. To have any form of success, it is likely you will need to be active on Facebook and Twitter, where there is the largest volume of audience. After that it all depends on where your audience is. For example, if your project has strong audio/visual impact well then YouTube or Vimeo may enable you to reach your greatest audience.

2. Blog

Starting a blog will be useful no matter what your project may be. It offers you a platform to drive traffic to your site should the donor want more detailed information. It will also allow you to keep them informed on your progress once the campaign is over.

3. Be realistic

Do not overestimate what you can achieve. Aim to under promise and over deliver. Project director of Fund It, Andrew Hetherington, has stated that campaigns of less than €10,000 have the greatest success rate. If it is a project that requires a larger amount, break up the campaign into more digestible chunks. For example if you were making a film, crowd source for production and marketing/distribution at separate intervals.

4. Crowdfunding starts well in advance of campaign launch

If you are not already active on social media, it is important to build your audience BEFORE you start a campaign. It is simply too overwhelming to do both at once. Don’t focus on your campaign or content ‘going viral’. Instead, focus on making it as vibrant, consistent and relevant to your audience as possible.

5. Say ‘Thank You’

Do not take the money and run! Once you have achieved your goals – and even if not – be sure to follow through on any rewards you promised in return for donations, and be grateful to those who helped make your ideas reality. You can, for example, send personal rewards with perhaps a handwritten card or message. It is also important to keep funders up to date with your progress with continued updates to social media/blog etc. Even if things are delayed or not going to plan, it is important to let the crowd know. The last thing you want is for them to feel like they have been fooled!

While crowdfunding may not be a walk in the park, a successful result will not only give you financial support, but will also give you a strong social base that will encourage you and show that others believe in you and your project! Most people on completion of this journey will recall it as a positive and fulfilling experience. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to bring your best ideas to life!

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08 November

Engaging Nonprofit Volunteers through Social Media

Volunteer Ireland are hosting the National Volunteer Management Conference today so naturally our interest spiked when they asked a member of our team to give a workshop on engaging volunteers through social media. We jumped at the chance, as here at connector360 we have a special place in our heart for nonprofit organizations and the great work they do.

Our whiz kid project manager Sarah was chosen for the task due to her background working with The Irish Cancer Society. She got the head down and immersed herself in research on how nonprofits use social channels successfully. What did she find? They are pretty darn good at it!

She packaged up her findings into a lovely presentation which you can find on Slideshare below:

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Some of the major insights she uncovered was the volunteers today are young, they’re generous and they are your online influencers. They share, share and keep on sharing the good work of the organizations they are involved with.
So, connector360 is sending a call out to all young people out there to get involved with a charity that is close to their heart. There’s no comparison to how rewarding the work is but more importantly you are helping others.

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28 June

How to manage your Facebook Privacy Settings and safeguard your reputation

It is crucial you manage your online reputation if you use Facebook for personal or professional reasons.  Here we share some great advice on how to do this – please share with your friends and look after them too

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More Resources

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21 May

Under The Hood – The 6 Key Parts Of Your Digital Marketing Engine

Today we will look at what separates an old, run down marketing strategy from the sleek, supercharged digital engine that drives a clued-in company.  Let’s pop the hood and see what makes souped-up digital marketing tick!

share1. Create Useful and Shareable Content

The web is chock full of companies and brands advertising their wares. Being heard in the digital space with just an advert or sales pitch is a sure fire way of being lost in the ether.  To attract the new and empowered online customer you will need to grab their attention and make them come to you.

How? Create content that is relevant and useful to your customer base.   This will encourage them to return to your site again and again and improve customer perception of your brand.  This can be hugely effective and cost efficient way of increasing leads and sales opportunities.

2. Build Your Community & Fanbase

Now you have a strong and active web presence. To borrow a classic movie quote “If you build it, they will come”?  Not necessarily!  Ensure you get your message heard, if people are sharing your content, find out where and how.  Encourage these behaviours further amongst your customer base. Common examples here are clever uses of polls, questions, contests and competitions.

3. Interact With Your Audience, Build Trust

Social media marketing has allowed mass conversation between companies and consumers.  Brands can now reach out and make real connections with their customers.  Use social media to humanise your brand, start conversations and spark debate.  This will help create enthusiastic customers and in time, brand evangelists.

4. Maintain a Sales Focused Website

Your website is your crown jewel online, the one part of the web where you control every aspect of your brand’s message.  Test your own site from a customer perspective, is the search and purchase process clear and easy to understand?  If customers have to jump through too many hoops to purchase, they will simply leave and never come back.

goingup5. Measure Your Effectiveness

Behold the altar of metrics!  Whatever your digital focus is (increasing fans, engagement, increasing sales leads) ensure that you are tracking the effects your strategy across your various web and social platforms.  Measure before, during and after any campaign, that way you can adjust your behaviour to repeat successes and avoid repeating failures.

6. Re-evaluate Objectives, & Go Again!

Of course, the road goes ever on regarding your brand’s performance.  Whether a campaign has met your goals or not, strive to create an action plan for any peaks and valleys in your performance that you may have noticed along the way.  Learn any lessons, refine your technique and get back into the fray.  Digital never sleeps!

If you’d like to know more about any of the topic discussed above, or how they can affect your business, please drop us a message.

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01 May

Preventing Disaster – How to avoid a social media crisis

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A social media crisis can strike like lightning, and can feel like a tornado flying through your business and your brand .  Of course, once it hits you can manage it with a strong and consistent plan to calm the storm and come out on the other side without too much damage.  Like any trouble on the horizon however, good forecasting can help you sidestep the problem to a large degree.  This is where active social media engagement, and more importantly, studious social media monitoring can save the day. They prevent a light breeze from becoming a howling gale of negative opinion against your brand.

1219415_small (1)Monitor

The practice of listening to the market. Depending on the size of your company, this can either be self managed or outsourced. There are a plethora of great monitoring tools that you can use to look for any mere mention of your company online.  Google alerts, and more focused tools such as Sproutsocial and Mention can scour the internet for any mention of your brand (you decide the search term the program looks for).  It will pick up everything said about you whether its good, bad, or indifferent.  Once you see something negative, don’t stick your fingers in your ears and hope the problem goes away, reach out and engage the user and look for the underlying cause.  They may be picking at a thread that is about to unravel…

Engage

Make sure to talk with your customers online when they aren’t buying, or when they want to tell you something.  Share appropriate content that helps their own business and lives, they’ll appreciate it.  Over time, they will become an advocate of your brand and may come out swinging to defend you if a negative story surfaces to reassure others of your reliability and trustworthiness.

Good Vs Bad ReputationBe reputation aware online

Mediabistro.com reports that 33% of all social media crises are caused by the organisation themselves. It can be from their own official marketing efforts, or ‘rogue’ employees posting inappropriate material, replying to a complaint in a rude or insensitive way. This is especially topical right now in Dublin with several restaurants and bars embroiled in rapidly escalating crises over bad customer service and ill-judged, ill-mannered replies to comments online.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

Ensure that however big or small your business is, or how structured or ad-hoc your social media use is, that all staff taking part in its management know how to communicate in line with your policy.  If you don’t have an official policy, even a quick brainstorm session with your staff on what is proper and what would be taboo will get everyone on the same page.

 

In summary, look to turn a potential crisis on its head and instead use it as a means to strengthen your brand online and your business practices to boot, there is clearly opportunity available in equal measure.  I’ll leave you with the unwitting genius of Homer Simpson to boil it down into one word…

Lisa Simpson: “Look on the bright side, Dad. Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for ‘crisis’ as they do for ‘opportunity?’”

Homer: “Yes. ‘Crisitunity!’”

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19 April

Trapped in a lift with your competitors and a hot lead, what happens next?

elevatorWe’ve all heard of the ‘elevator pitch’. It’s the bite size, 10 second pitch that all businesses and brands should have at the ready. It boils down your offering to it’s simplest, stand out terms.  Let’s say you and your competitors are trapped in an elevator for real and a huge potential customer is there and ready to deal.

You open your mouth to wow them and then you and your four competitors recite the exact same thing.  This may get you thinking ‘Wait, how exactly ARE we better?’  You’re ready to find your key differentiator…


Repeat after me… How to bottle your lightning

Complete these simple sentences to see if you can narrow down your differentiator

“We offer …….. that other competitors cannot match”

“We aid customers that need …. better than anyone else”

Maybe that wasn’t so easy?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone in having to think a little deeper to capture that elusive spark of advantage.  In the modern market,  it is increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself clearly on product superiority alone.  Sure, companies like Apple can, but mostly it’s the intangible elements that fit together to make a company the leader, or an also-ran.  In other words, often service, customer interaction and even your brands story can be the game changer.

Identify, Nurture, Benefit

Your brand is unique, from its origin story, to its staff, its style of communication and advertising, its owner, its passion.  That heady mix is you, and how you deal with it and help your customers might be the reason they flock to you.  The follow up call your reps make the day after a big delivery, or your service agents make after a problem, these tiny interactions could be creating the special value that your customers really appreciate.  If you want to know if this is true, ask your customers!  They will tell you what you are getting right, as well as wrong.

They may like your light hearted brand personality, your hands on rock and roll owner or the calm knowledge your staff possess.  By all means test internally for this, but you have to think ‘outside in’ i.e. look for the differences others see rather than the ones you might be the only one noticing.

Once you have narrowed down these factors, promote them to your staff and nurture all the elements that make you a success – stay the course!  The benefits of knowing what makes you tick will come…

listen-300x300-resized-600A cautionary tale – Practice what you preach

Once you recognise your key differentiator, listen to your customers for signs that you remain on track.  Make sure to treat direct customer contact seriously at all stages of a purchase (from enquiry, to purchase, to after sales, to problems).  The golden rule today is that if they are talking to you, they are also talking about you.  Monitor all social media channels for any feedback, good or bad on how you’re doing – this is your benchmark.  Take action and respond to any chatter online about your customer’s experience with you.

For example, if you pride yourself on start-to-finish customer relationships and your clients find that your sales staff are ducking them once an order is secured, leaving them to deal with HQ for any follow up or issues, this goes against the whole purpose.  Ensure that your key differentiator is visible and working well across all stages of the customer relationship.  Otherwise, the disconnect between promise and delivery will drive your clients right into the arms of competitors.

If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on the latest marketing news, tips and trends, then signup for our newsletter here!

 

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16 April

Learn to love your social media competitors: They can do your market research for you.

lettt

Market research is difficult and expensive, in both time and money. There are, however, those that already understand your market and they’ve been researching it for years. They are your competitors.

Don’t try to understand the market by yourself, let your competitors do it for you! Using Public data available through Social Media, you can analyse the market, see the status quo and understand what works and doesn’t.

Here are some of the things you can do by looking at your competitors data.

customer-segmentationSegmentation

Understanding your potential customers is of paramount importance. Who are they, what age are they, where are they located? Rather than trying to figure this our yourself you can just analyse the audience that follow your competitors. This will allow you to see the average customer that’s targeted by your competitors, which will make it easier for you to target them as well.

Which channels to use

Not every channel is equal. For some businesses LinkedIn works better, for others it’s Facebook. Experimenting to find out which works best for you can be time consuming. Instead, look at the channels your competitors are using. See which channels get the most attention and which gets the most shares. These are the channels you should be focusing on. There’s no point putting all your energy into a channel your competitors have already proven to be ineffective.

influencer-social-webInfluencers

Finding influencers takes a lot of effort, tools like Klout can make it easier, but a large time commitment is still required. There is a simpler way, use your competitors audience as a sample. Look for users that are highly connected in their communities. Look for people featured in multiple communities. These people have real sway over their audience. If you can get them to publish your content then you instantly get access to their market. Click here to learn more about influencers and how effective they are.

Emerging opportunities

Look at your competitors audience, listen for areas where they seem to be having problems. This will give you a much larger audience to listen to than just your own. Use the tips we outlined in our previous post to see the kinds of things you can learn. You’ll get a much broader picture of the problems people face. These problems are opportunities, by identifying them across the sector, you’ve given yourself a serious advantage.

These are just some of things that can be learned about your market by looking at your competitors. Remember, don’t waste your time performing extensive market research when you can use your competitors to do it for you.

If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on the latest Digital Marketing news, tips and trends, then signup for our newsletter here!

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11 April

The TOP 3 things you can learn from your social media audience

3thingsyoucanlearnfromyouraudienceAre you listening to your audience? You should, they’re the people that want your product or service. They are your market and they have more power than ever before.

Here are 3 things you can learn from your audience that will keep your business alive and adaptive.

1. Find weak links in your marketing, then fix them

bouncerate

Look for links and services that your audience frequently ignore. For example, links that never get clicked, or pages that have high bounce rates. Then go out there and talk to fans/customers directly, ask them what they didn’t like about the content or why it didn’t interest them.

This will give you a strong insight into what works and what doesn’t. It’s far more effective than a generic questionnaire and it delivers real results. Armed with this knowledge you can quickly fix the weak links, ensuring your brand message is working.

2. Highlight pain points in your service

sentiment

Sentiment analysis will give you a good idea of how people feel about your brand or product. It’s not an exact science, but it is a good indicator of pain points/potential problems.

To use it effectively, listen to what your audience says to you. Categorise these messages by sentiment eg (good, ok, bad) and then look for patterns. You’ll quickly notice inconsistencies in your service and pain points for your customers, be it poor customer service or technical problems. This knowledge is invaluable and it can be used to turn your business around, improving the experience for everyone.

3. Spot market shifts as they happen

influencer-social-web

The key to a successful business is adaptability. In order to adapt, you need to know the status quo of the market. That’s why you should listen to your audience. Who better to tell you the status quo than the people that are part of it? Don’t just listen to what they say to you, but listen to what they say in general. They’ll outline their problems and possible solutions, they’ll talk to people about their issues and they’ll post content that resonates with them.

We suggest listening to key influencers in your audience, here’s why:

  • They tend to be ahead of the curve,
  • They’re a smaller sample, so they are an easier group to listen to
  • They are vocal about their problems.

Listening to this subset of your audience will tell you many things. You’ll quickly see the status quo of the market. You’ll see trends emerging based on the content they distribute. You’ll also spot shifts in the market that you can use to adapt your business.

These are just 3 examples of what you can learn just by listening to your audience, but there are many more. Listening is a powerful tool that can be used to deliver real results. Get the edge, listen to your audience.

If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on the latest Digital Marketing news, tips and trends, then signup for our newsletter here!

 

 

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09 April

Social Media influencers : who are they and why do they matter

topo

Marketing is about targeting people with your product or service. More importantly, it’s about targeting the right people. There’s no point getting your message across to 10,000 people if none of them are interested in what you do. Instead, your goal is to target the people that have the exact problem you can solve and are willing to pay for it.

How do you target these people? You could target them directly, but this is difficult and time consuming. In the world of Digital Marketing there’s an easier way. Target the people they listen to, their influencers.

influencer

The Influencer

Influencers are people that have influence within a community. They are a trusted source of information that others rely on.

Do you follow someone on Twitter because they are an expert in a given field? Congratulations, you’re following an influencer.

As a species, we’re social creatures, and social recommendations hold a lot of weight! Especially if they are from a reliable source. That’s why influencers have such power, they can easily influence our decisions.

How to spot influencers

Influencers typically have the following traits:

  • They are Activists: influencers get involved, with their communities, political movements, charities, etc . . .
  • They are Connected: influencers have large social networks
  • They have Impact: influencers are looked up to and are trusted by others
  • They have Active minds: influencers have multiple and diverse interests
  • They are Trendsetters: influencers tend to be early adopters (or leavers) in markets

When looking at people in your network, ask yourself if any of them have the above traits. Another good way to find influencers is to use tools such as Klout, which will tell you how influential particular people are.

influencer globe

Why target influencers?

Business is all about trust. People will only buy from you if they trust you. Building up that level of trust can be difficult and time consuming, especially when you’re getting started.

By targeting influencers, you can leverage their existing network to put your product or service directly in front of the people that need it. Then there’s trust. If an influencer endorses you, then you don’t have to worry about trust, the trust they have for the influencer is immediately transferred to you. When an influencer redistributes your content, they are saying “This person knows what they’re talking about and you should listen to them”.

That’s why targeting influencers is so important. It’s an easier way to gain credibility in the community and a great way to get your message out to the people that need it.

If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on the latest Digital Marketing news, tips and trends, then signup for our newsletter here!

 

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28 March

The top responsive blogs

Having a blog is more important now than ever. It’s the stage from which you broadcast your message, whatever it may be. With more and more users going mobile, your blog could be losing you business, even before they read it.

If your blog isn’t readable on a mobile device, then mobile visitors will leave straight way, losing you potential readers, readers that could become potential sales. Why alienate part of your audience before they even get inside the door?

The solution. Go responsive! It guarantees that your blog is usable, no matter what the device.

For inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite responsive blogs, have a read and see why we like them and how you can emulate them.

tatly

 Tatly

A site where you can buy professionally designed temporary tattoos. (visit site)

What we like

  • Images are the primary focus, draw attention to what’s important.
  • Easy to navigate and browse the blog
  • Simple, unobstrusive design without a lot of excess clutter.

What we’d change

  • Make the logo smaller, if it were smaller the reader could focus more on the content
  • Turn the menu into a dropdown, it’s not the focus for blog visitors

cognitionHappy Cog

Application and website builders, they have a strong focus on collaboration and digital experiences.  (visit site)

What we like

  • Elegant design that easy on the eye
  • Simple interface that’s intuitive and easy to navigate
  • Easy to search and traverse the blog

What we’d change

  • Make the logo, search box and taglin section smaller. While important, they aren’t the focus of the blog, the content is.
  • Keep pictures visible in the blog, regardless of device, they divide up the article, making it easier to read.

tnw

The Next Web

News site with all the latest news about Internet technology, business and culture. (visit site)

What we like

  • Header takes up minimal room
  • Incredibly easy to traverse thanks to the “next” button
  • Header image clearly shown
  • Content constains minimal clutter

What we’d change

  • Not a thing, as a mobile blog it’s amazing, as a responsive blog, it’s impeccable. 

spitgotSpigot design

A web design agency with a strong focus on user interface, development and content strategy. (visit site)

What we like

  • Clean, intuitive interface that’s easy to use
  • Preview of images and text make it very easy to browse
  • Posts are clean, uncluttered and easy to read
  • Blog images resize dynamically

What we’d change

  • Too little preview text, we’d show a little more and add an ellipsis to indicate there’s more content.
  • Make the search box smaller, or least not as prominent It only appears on the main page, so this is a miner gripe.

A responsive blog needs to be simple, elegant, uncluttered, with a strong focus on the content and the brand. All of the above get this right. Any of our suggested changes are minor and these blogs should be upheld as shining examples of how to do it right. If you intend to make your blog responsive, we suggest you pay close attention to these guys.

If you’d like to know more responsive blogs, or even just responsive design, why not contact us!

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